Ballard Neighborhood

Ballard Neighborhood

While Scandinavians settled throughout the Puget Sound region, the Seattle neighborhood of Ballard is most closely associated with Nordic heritage. Located northwest of downtown, Ballard was settled in the 1860s and incorporated as its own city in 1890. It was annexed by Seattle in 1907.

Ballard Lumber
Stacks of lumber, Seattle Cedar Manufacturing Plant, Ballard. MOHAI, Webster & Stevens Collection 1983.10.1692.2
Once known as the Shingle Capital of the World, Ballard’s milling and ship building industries provided employment, while restaurants and other businesses catered to Nordic immigrants.

The nearby Hiram Chittenden Locks opened in 1917, connecting Lake Washington and Lake Union with Puget Sound through the Ship Canal. Nordic fishermen rallied the Port of Seattle to create fresh water public moorage along the Canal, which led to the establishment of Fishermen’s Terminal, now home to one of the world’s largest fleets of fishing vessels. The locks and the terminal are both popular visitor attractions today.

A variety of religious and secular organizations serving the Nordic community are based in Ballard. Notable among these is the Leif Erikson Sons of Norway Lodge at 2245 NW 57th (206.783.1274).

King Olav V of Norway dedicated the Bergen Place Park (at 5420 – 22nd Avenue NW) in 1975, in the name of Seattle’s sister city. Historic murals decorate an adjacent wall, and a contemporary art installation in the park called Witness Trees by Jennifer Dixon evokes the area’s Coast Salish heritage, fishing industry, Nordic mythology and folk art.

In 1976, King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden read an official proclamation establishing the Ballard Avenue Historical District, the commercial area south of Market Street. He also dedicated the small park located on the site of Ballard’s Old City Hall, now called Marvin’s Garden (22nd Avenue NW and Ballard Avenue).

Today, Ballard Avenue’s modest commercial buildings from the 1890s through the 1930s are home to boutiques, galleries, restaurants and live music clubs. A Sunday market of farmers and craftspeople draws visitors year-round. Market Street, 15th Avenue NW and 24th Avenue NW are home to a handful of Scandinavian bakeries, gift shops and traditional food markets.

Click here for a general interest walking guide to the Ballard Avenue Historic District.

Click here for another walking guide emphasizing architectural history from the Ballard Historical Society.

Did You Know?

When they are not going after King crab in Alaska’s Bering Sea, some of the vessels featured on the television series The Deadliest Catch are homeported at Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal, which was founded in part by Norwegian fishermen.

The weekly newspaper The Western Viking, founded in Ballard in 1889, is the oldest Norwegian newspaper in the United States. It continues publication today as the Norwegian American Weekly.

Snoose Junction was once a nickname for the Ballard community – it refers to the fondness that many old timers had for snus, a type of chewing tobacco.

brochure pdf

Nordic Heritage Guide
Download the guide here.